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Yalumba ‘Signature’ Honours Clive Weston

By July 31, 2013No Comments
Since 1962, Yalumba has honoured a person “who has made a significant contribution to the tradition of Yalumba”. For the 2009 Yalumba ‘Signature’ Cabernet/Shiraz, the signatory is Clive Weston, the head of Negociants N.Z. Ltd, one of the country’s most significant and respected wine distribution companies. www.negociantsnz.com

Clive Weston – Negociants NZ Ltd

Clive has been one of the doyens of the New Zealand wine and associated hospitality industries, beginning his work with Negociants N.Z. back in 1988. His career in wine goes back considerably further to 1973 when he worked vintage at de Luze et Fils in Bordeaux. Since then, he has been involved in all aspects of wine from production right through to sales and marketing. I’ve known Clive from his time at the start at Negociants, and in the beginning was impressed by his effortless charm and extensive experience in wine. His joie de vivre was and still is an inspiration. It did not take long for me to realise that behind the facade of schmoozing, partying and networking, Clive had an incredible and admirable work ethic built on drive, passion and stamina, and he had the ability to achieve results. His demeanour is one of evenness and positivity, and he is the perfect example of a man who sees life as a ‘glass half-full’. His loyalty to his friends and colleagues has earned him great respect.

John Lawrence – Boulcott Street Bistro
(with Sam Kopua behind, serving Yalumba wine)

A Signature Celebration
This is the first time that a person who is not living in Australia has been honoured as a signatory. It is clearly a well-deserved tribute, as Robert Hill Smith and Yalumba do not make the choice lightly. Clive has a special relationship well beyond being an employee of the company, and the bond he has with Robert and the Yalumba team is one more as a family. As such, Clive was humbled when he was informed of the Yalumba’s decision at Christmas time last year. Clive graciously accepted to honour, but for him, it was business as usual, until John Lawrence, proprietor of Boulcott Street Bistro heard about it, and decided to throw a party for his good friend Clive, who could then celebrate with his friends!

John’s guest list included some of the most highly respected restaurateurs and wine trade in the country, as well as the Wellington-based staff of Negociants N.Z. Ltd. Clive’s personal secretary of around 20 years, Tina Rutherford was in attendance, but unfortunately, Robert Hill Smith was unable to attend due to Yalumba winery commitments. Although Clive’s wife Creina was also unavailable. he was especially pleased that two of his children, Cornelia and Richard were there to celebrate. The theme John Lawrence and Boulcott Street Bistro had to be ‘Signature’, and a menu of their signature dishes was served, accompanied, of course by a selection of Clive’s favourite wines, including a first release tasting of the Yalumba ‘Signature’ 2009. www.boulcottstreetbistro.co.nz

Yalumba ‘Signature’ Barossa Cabernet/Shiraz 2009
I was first introduced to Yalumba’s ‘Signature’ red with vintages from the late 1960s. The wines remain close to my heart as some of the best Australian reds I’d tried at the time. Even today, it is a significant wine for me, as it represents what Australia does best. To me, its peer and rival is Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet/Shiraz, and I wouldn’t like to pick which is my favourite. Although both Yalumba and Penfolds have far more expensive icon wines, such as ‘The Octavius’ and ‘Grange’, ‘The Signature’ and ‘Bin 389’ are the true flagships for the companies, as they remain truly consumer accessible, thus the reputations of the firms rest on the quality of these wines. With Yalumba especially, it is their “best of vintage Cabernet and Shiraz blend”.

The wine is usually a more or less equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, sourced only from the Barossa. The 2009 features some outstanding parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon in particular, from the ‘Schrapel’ and ‘Brooks’ vineyards comprising the majority of that variety. The wine is 13.5% alc., and was aged 20 months in 35% new oak barrels of French, Hungarian and American provenance for added complexity.

I can report the wine is a very high quality one, and one of the best examples from 2009 that I’ve seen to date. The Cabernet Sauvignon component is prominent in flavour and structure, forming the body and backbone of the wine. The Shiraz component emerges and adds flesh in the glass, and the oaking quite integral. At present, the wine is firm, if not with a degree of the formidable, but there’s so much to like already, and it’s clear that it will develop and evolve for a decade and a half easily. I light-heartedly described it as “fun to be with, firm, complex, and will age very well”, and “like Clive Weston” the signatory, and I hold to that. www.yalumba.com

The Boulcott Street Bistro Signature Lunch
As mentioned above, John Lawrence, Rex Morgan and the Boulcott Street Bistro team put on a lunch based on a selection of their signature dishes. The food, as could be expected, was absolutely classic and first-class, and befitting the occasion. The wines were equally as good. Here is the menu and wine list:

Arrival and canapés
– Bollinger Champagne Rosé NV

Flaxseed hot-smoked salmon with horseradish cream
Duck fritter with Iceberg and cider vinaigrette
– Yalumba ‘The Virgilius’ Eden Valley Viognier 2010
– Palliser Estate Martinborough Chardonnay 2011

Fillet béarnaise with hand cut fries and red wine jus
– Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2009

Crème bruleé with vanilla poached winter fruits
– Yalumba ‘FSW8B’ Wrattonbully Botrytis Viognier 2011

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